Highway 52 will be under watchful eyes Monday during President Obama's journey
Saturday, August 13, 2011 2:04 PM
"A lot has not been disclosed," said Fillmore County Sheriff Daryl Jensen regarding the closure of Highway 52 throughout the county as President Barack Obama travels Monday afternoon from Cannon Falls through Rochester, through Fillmore County, and on into Iowa for a town hall meeting at Seed Savers Exchange, rural Decorah.
The sheriff expects the highway, which includes approximately 35 miles in Fillmore County, to close in segments roughly somewhere between 1 and 5 p.m. His officers - and a large contingency of extra eyes - will help provide security.
"We're at the mercy of the Secret Service and the Highway Patrol. We're not sure of all the details yet. It will speak for itself when it occurs," stated Jensen. "We will preserve the security, so to speak."
He noted that closing an interstate highway is much easier with its limited access points.
"But a road like Highway 52 takes assistance. It's quite a project."
Jensen said local Fillmore County law enforcement officers will be assisted by the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT), the Minnesota State Patrol, Olmsted County officials, Winona County officials, and the Fillmore County Highway Department.
He confirmed that on Friday law enforcement officials let businesses along the highway know about the closure on Monday.
"The ethanol plant," he stated, referring to the POET plant at the northern edge of Preston, "has a lot of trucks going in and out, but it has an alternate route. It's a courtesy to the businesses to let them know (about the closure)."
Signs will be placed noting the highway closure. Any vehicles on Highway 52 will be directed off the highway. Sheriff Jensen said it would be to a side road and not just onto the shoulder. People might also be kept back from the road.
"This (security) is taken very seriously, both with the situations in the world and in our own country. We have a big task," he stated.
Jensen's office had an idea last Tuesday that there might be a need for security on Highway 52 for President Obama. It was confirmed Thursday when the Secret Service met with the sheriff.
Fillmore County has little experience in providing security for a high-profile political figure, although Jensen helped with precautions for a president before, when former president George Bush was in Rochester.
The sheriff summed up what he can say for sure about Monday, "We're not there to watch the motorcade, but to help the Secret Service. Thank goodness for all the help. It will be a good experience."